Australian Oscar Piastri impresses with his third career Formula 1 podium behind Charles Leclerc; Lewis Hamilton; Max Verstappen


It caused three-time race winner Sainz an immediate puncture and forced him into the pits, while the impact also damaged the sidepod and floor of Piastri’s McLaren.

Yet the Melburnian didn’t have to wait long for some running repairs. Haas’ Magnussen made contact with Red Bull’s Perez at about 240km/h heading ‘Beau Rivage’ out of the first turn, triggering a horror crash at the back of the field that forced a red flag and a stop to the race of more than 40 minutes.

Hulkenberg, Magnussen’s teammate, was also caught up in the carnage as an innocent bystander and forced to retire.

The crumpled wreck of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull being removed from the track. Miraculously, he walked away from his horror smash unscathed.

The crumpled wreck of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull being removed from the track. Miraculously, he walked away from his horror smash unscathed.Credit: Getty Images

And though the cars were seemingly smashed to smithereens, all three drivers emerged completely unscathed – an ode to the safety advancements of motor sport’s pinnacle.

Race stewards later declared the smash “a racing incident” – apportioning no blame. They reached the same conclusion for the incident involving Sainz – who recovered well after the restart – and Piastri.

The Monaco circuit is as famous for its lack of overtaking as it is the mega yachts covering the shoreline. Its unforgiving layout demands full concentration as well as nerves of steel, and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon showed neither as he collected his teammate, Pierre Gasly – also on the first lap of the race. While Gasly continued, Ocon was forced to retire.

“The one DRS [overtaking] zone here is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard”

Legendary F1 analyst Martin Brundle

And yet, incredibly, his was the last car forced from the race.

After the restart just before 11.50pm AEST, Leclerc again got an ideal start and kept Piastri and Sainz at bay in a strategic masterclass.

While legendary F1 analyst and former driver Martin Brundle was at times exasperated by the lack of overtaking in the race – at one stage saying: “The one DRS [overtaking] zone here is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard” – even he was captivated by the “go slow” strategy employed at stages by Ferrari.

It was done not only to preserve Leclerc’s tyres, but also to keep the other leaders of the field, including Piastri, Sainz, and Norris, bunched behind him so they couldn’t afford the gamble of a secondary pitstop to change on to newer, quicker rubber.

As the race progressed, it became clear Leclerc had all the answers anyway, winning his home grand prix for the first time and breaking his Monaco curse.

Early in the race, on the seventh lap, in a section of the race that was all about management – the cars, their tyres, and their fuel loads – McLaren confirmed to Piastri over the team radio that his car had been damaged in the incident with Sainz, but at the same time gave him the confidence to keep pushing.

Piastri, sporting an Ayrton Senna tribute livery on his McLaren, finished seven seconds adrift of Leclerc.

Piastri, sporting an Ayrton Senna tribute livery on his McLaren, finished seven seconds adrift of Leclerc.Credit: AP

“Oscar, we do see the impact of the damage,” the radio message, broadcast by Sky F1, said. “[But] it looks like the aero balance is sensible at least.”

Following the race, a matter-of-fact Piastri was full of praise for Leclerc’s win, but added: “The pace at the beginning [of the race] was incredibly slow.”

Yet despite tyre conservation battle in the race, Piastri was still thrilled with his second-place finish.

“It’s been a great weekend all around, and it’s nice to finally put a result on the board,” he said. “It’s nice to have a podium, and what better place [than Monaco].

“I’m happy with P2 – a good result for the team again. [I’m] very, very happy.”

Triple world champion Max Verstappen was unable to recover from an uncharacteristically poor qualifying performance, finishing sixth.

The procession-like closing stages of the race led some commentators to call for a future rethink on allowing the drivers to change to their preferred tyre choice during a red-flag race stoppage.

Piastri’s countryman and eight-time grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo finished 12th.

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